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It’s been a very interesting and stimulating adventure ride watching the surge of social media over the last 6 years since first diving into the space of social for business. Back then there was zealous excitement when someone tweeted you back or you posted a comment on a forum or someone’s blog post. Back then people also seemed to know exactly who they were connected to on LinkedIn or Twitter, or who was reading their blog … and there was a certain air of caring about the peeps you ‘knew’ online.

Focus really was on the individuals in a community with the rise of social growing from geeky (I’m a geek so I can say that) online forums and gamers. Avatars had an air of dorkiness (I can say that because I’m a dork) and chatting online to strangers seemed kind of weird.

And then things shifted to getting as many strangers as possible to follow or like you. Meeting someone in person who you’d first met online was no longer reserved for the dating game. We marveled at the clever puns created for social, such as ‘Tweet-up’ for Twitter meet-ups, hashtags still required explanation and were reserved for social media only.

Hundreds of social networks came into existence, some died and some came back to life. There are case studies aplenty (I love that word #justsaying), working in social media is now a legit thing and has even grown its own hierarchy of experience, being a blogger/instagrammer/viner/youtube star is a well paying job, news and media has changed forever and you can pay with tweets and happiness.

To say there’s been a flurry of activity is a gross understatement. Daily change is a constant and social media continues to grow into a swollen beast of the good, bad and ugly.

I’ve seen the great value it can bring to business and some great misuse of resources that have gone into social caused by a lack of real understanding of how the beast exists. This is where I’ve experienced a personal torment about the thing I do. It’s been on my mind for too long and now I’m seeing blog posts and articles by others who have articulated my thinking so thought it best to get my ideas into the mix.

If you’re playing in the social space personally and/or professionally (if you can even split the two definitively) then I ask you: can  you tell me who is in your online community? If I were to select one of the faces in your social networks, can you tell me who they are beyond their profile description?

Do you know who the most active people are in your social network? What do they like to share on social? Who do they talk to on social?  What was the last comment or experience you exchanged with your connections? Who, from your online connections, have you spent time with in person, face to face, IRL?

And more importantly, who are you in your social networks? What do people know you for? Do they even know you’re there or are you lurking in the background hopefully waiting to be found (which will probs not happen except by Missy Bigboobs who can help you get 5000+ followers)?

It’s time to review your own social presence to make sure you’re happy with the way you present online and exist in your social networks. I like to make sure I’m adding value in some way either by sharing useful articles relevant to the people I connect with online, or by at least adding some humour and warmth to their day, or for staying in touch with friends in a more fleeting way than email but by no means any less meaningful.

Know who you are, know who is in you social playground and make sure they know who you are for all the right reasons and I *effing* swear you’ll have a richer social experience.